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PAREB pushes for active participation of brokers in flagging suspicious transactions

THE real estate industry is pushing for a more active participation in detecting suspicious transactions as the government moves to strengthen the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

The Philippine Association of Real Estate Boards (PAREB), Inc. proposed that all contract documents on the sale of real estate, exchange, mortgage, lease or joint ventures should be sealed and signed by a registered broker.

“As real estate professionals, we are trained in real estate documentation and processes, brokers can easily detect any suspicious transactions,” PAREB President Samuel O. Lao said in a statement on Wednesday.

He noted that real estate brokers should also include their professional identification card and its date of expiration.

Senate Bills No. 1412 and 1545, which will amend Republic Act No. 9160 or the AMLA, proposed to include real estate developers and brokers among the covered persons and single cash transactions amounting to more than P1 million among the covered transactions that must be reported to the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Mr. Lao had proposed to increase the cap on single cash transactions to P3 million or higher, saying the current proposal will affect the promotion of real estate investments.

“PAREB supports any amendments that will help in raising the reputational risk of our country,” Mr. Lao said. “However, said measure should also promote the growth of real estate market and enhance professionalization of real estate practitioners.”

The Organization of Socialized and Economic Housing Developers of the Philippines, Inc. (OSHDP) said in a Senate hearing in October that this provision will likely “over-regulate” the industry which has more than 11,000 real estate salespersons and 31,000 brokers at present.

In that hearing, Senators Grace S. Poe-Llamanzares, who chairs the Banks and Financial Intermediaries committee, and Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon both agreed to raise the threshold to P3 million.

The panel has yet to bring the measure for plenary deliberation, while its counterpart, House Bill No. 7904, secured approval on final reading on Tuesday with 231 affirmative votes, seven negatives and three abstentions.

The government has until February to enact and implement changes in the AMLA in line with the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) recommendation.

Failure to amend the law will put the Philippines on the FATF’s grey list and will be identified as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering and terrorist financing. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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